Solar radiation transmitted to the ground through cloud in relation to surface albedo

The global solar radiation received at the earth's surface in the presence of cloud depends not only on the optical depth of the cloud and its other physical properties, but also on the albedo of the underlying surface. Multiple reflection of radiation between the cloud and a snow‐covered surface, mainly in the visible spectrum, can increase the measured global solar radiation by a factor of 2 or more in overcast conditions. A quantitative account of this effect is required, applicable to any cloud conditions, if climatological records of solar radiation at high latitudes are to provide adequate figures, even for monthly means, at locations where the surface albedo differs appreciably from that of the observing station. Measurements made at an Antarctic offshore station (65°S, 64°W) are compared during two periods of extreme surface albedo (open water and fast ice surrounding the island station) and demonstrate that the effect increases, in amplitude and variability, with increasing cloud cover. The extreme cases are reconciled by a relatively simple numerical model, of general applicability, in which partial cloud cover is parameterized by sunshine duration. Absorption in the cloud and the effect of local land surfaces are taken into account. The model is applied predictively to sunshine and visual sea ice data throughout a 2‐year period and successfully simulates the measured values of global solar radiation over a wide range of cloud and sea ice cover, enabling the irradiance for any value of surface albedo to be inferred.


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Authors: Gardiner, Brian G.

1 April, 1987
Journal of Geophysical Research / 92
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